ALMOST a third of all new mothers at Pilgrim Hospital smoke throughout their pregnancy, shocking new figures have revealed.
Statistics from United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust show that 29 per cent of mums giving birth at the Sibsey Road hospital continue to puff away during their pregnancies, compared to 18.6 per cent across Lincolnshire as a whole and just 10.5 per cent at Lincoln County Hospital.
The research, which also found a higher-than-average figure for mothers in Spalding, suggests there is an east-west divide in terms of the number of pregnant women who have smoked during pregnancy – but health professionals maintain that help is at hand.
Stephanie Heathcote, smoking cessation officer for Lincolnshire Community Health Services NHS Trust, said: “In Lincolnshire, we are working to address the divide which has developed in the county. We are continuing to achieve the government targets for Lincoln and Grantham areas, however, we still face a challenge in reaching mothers who choose to smoke in the east of the county.”
She added that work was underway to create special support for Eastern European women in Boston and Spalding.
Smoking during pregnancy can increase the risk of miscarriage, premature birth and stillbirth, and can cause complications during pregnancy.
Government targets aim to reduce the proportion of women smoking through pregnancy to 11 per cent by 2015. The national average is currently 13.6 per cent.
Last year in Lincolnshire, the Phoenix Stop Smoking service helped 503 women to quit smoking. Ms Heathcote said help was at hand for anybody who wanted to give up.
She added: “We have a very strong partnership with the midwifery services in Lincolnshire and the midwives are very proactive with all of their pregnant smokers. As recommended by the National Institute for Clinical Excellence, midwives are now offering routine carbon monoxide screening for all pregnant women and referring them into our service as part of their antenatal care.
“Pregnancy advisors at Phoenix provide one-to-one specialist support, which is tailored to meet individual needs. Last year, 1,378 pregnant smokers were referred into the service.”
l The Phoenix Stop Smoking Service and Weight Management Service will be offering free carbon monoxide testing and BMI checking throughout August.
l For more information contact the Phoenix Stop Smoking Service on 0800 840 1533.